Connecting for corporate social innovation


Advances in Project Management


By Prof Darren Dalcher

Director, National Centre for Project Management

United Kingdom


According to the Oxford Dictionary to connect is ‘to bring together or into contact so that a real or notional link is established’, or ‘to associate or relate something in some respect’. The derivation appears to be from Late Middle English in the sense of being united physically. The dictionary further adds that the etymological root is from the Latin connectere, in the form of con – which implies ‘together’, and nectere, to ‘bind’. The Cambridge English Dictionary simply explains to connect as ‘to join or be joined with something else’, while the Merriam Webster Dictionary offers the brief definition ‘to join (two or more things) together’.

Connecting can thus be defined as joining, linking or being joined. Over time the use of the term appears to have expanded from a physical sense of binding together to a more logical set of connections that are being made between objects, things and people. The Oxford English Dictionary thus defines a connection as a ‘relationship in which a person or thing is linked or associated with something else’, while the Cambridge Dictionary relates to ‘the state of being related to someone or something else’. The Oxford Dictionary also provides a somewhat more contemporary definition of connections, as ‘people with whom one has social or professional contact or to whom one is related, especially those with influence and able to offer one help’.

The transformation of connecting from a physical-material point of view towards a more social sphere appears to be in train. In the age of social media, connecting can enable new forms of arranging, organising, and engaging for novel types of action and improvement. Ultimately, connecting can enable radical and beneficial transformation that empowers change subjects to engage, influence and shape whilst ensuring that communities buy into, co-create and make use of the budding change.

Projects for the community – The Eden Project

The Eden Project, located near St. Austell on a site of a former china clay mine is an extremely popular visitor attraction in Cornwall, England. The £141m project to reclaim and regenerate a neglected brownfield site, in Cornwall, which has the UK’s highest proportion of derelict mines, was the brainchild of Sir Tim Smit. Sir Tim previously restored the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, neglected since the Second World War, which gave him the inspiration to create the regenerative concept of the Eden Project (Petherick, et al., 2004; Smit, 1999; 2016).

The Eden Project is a dramatic global garden housed in tropical biomes that nestle in a crater the size of 30 football pitches. The two enormous biomes consist of hundreds of hexagonal and pentagonal, inflated plastic cells, supported by a steel framework. The site, which was opened in March 2001, has welcomed its 20th millionth visitor in 2018. The Eden Project, often marketed as the eighth wonder of the world, affords a gateway to the relationship between people and plants, offering a fascinating insight into the story of mankind’s connection to and dependence on plant life (Eden, 2016).

The Eden Project is a new kind of visitor garden. The rainforest biome, the world’s largest greenhouse and indoor rainforest at 3.9 acres, enables visitors to experience the sights, smells and scale of the rainforests and to discover the tropical plants that are used to produce everyday products from fruiting banana, coffee and rubber plants to giant bamboo. The Mediterranean biome offers the chance to explore more temperate and arid climates, including lemon trees, olive groves and gnarled vines, while the 30-acre outdoor botanical garden offers the opportunity to see tea, lavender, hops, hemp, sunflower and other plants that will change our future, flourishing under the Cornish sun.

The Eden Project recognises, and shares, the importance of sustainability to local communities and takes into account the economic, environmental and social benefits to be considered when making decisions. It has improved the image of the local area and rapidly transformed a derelict former mine into one of the UK’s top tourist destinations, averaging well over a million visitors per year and contributing in excess of £2 billion to the Cornish economy. It employs over 700 local people, the majority of whom were previously unemployed, and uses over 2,500 local farmers and suppliers. Indeed, all food and drink is locally sourced from Cornwall and the South West. The project has transformed the local economy, decreased unemployment by 6 per cent and introduced a growing demand for holidays and accommodation, whilst also boosting attendance at the other local and regional attractions and resorts.

The Eden Project is fast emerging as a unique resource for education, knowledge and innovation towards a sustainable future. The latest addition to the site is the Core, a sustainable education centre built to educate future generations as well as businesses and entrepreneurs about the benefits of sustainable development.


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Editor’s note: The PMWJ Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower and other publishers in the Routledge family.  Each month an introduction to the current article is provided by series editor Prof Darren Dalcher, who is also the editor of the Gower/Routledge Advances in Project Management series of books on new and emerging concepts in PM.  Prof Dalcher’s article is an introduction to the invited paper this month in the PMWJ. 

How to cite this paper: Dalcher, D. (2018). Connecting for corporate social innovation, PM World Journal, Volume VII, Issue VII – July.  Available online at https://pmworldjournal.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pmwj72-Jul2018-Dalcher-connecting-for-corporate-social-innovation.pdf

About the Author

Darren Dalcher, PhD

Author, Professor, Series Editor
Director, National Centre for Project Management
United Kingdom




Darren Dalcher, Ph.D. HonFAPM, FRSA, FBCS, CITP, FCMI SMIEEE SFHEA is Professor of Project Management, and founder and Director of the National Centre for Project Management (NCPM) in the UK.  He has been named by the Association for Project Management (APM) as one of the top 10 “movers and shapers” in project management and was voted Project Magazine’s “Academic of the Year” for his contribution in “integrating and weaving academic work with practice”. Following industrial and consultancy experience in managing IT projects, Professor Dalcher gained his PhD in Software Engineering from King’s College, University of London.

Professor Dalcher has written over 200 papers and book chapters on project management and software engineering. He is Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Software: Evolution and Process, a leading international software engineering journal. He is the editor of the book series, Advances in Project Management, published by Routledge and of the companion series Fundamentals of Project Management.  Heavily involved in a variety of research projects and subjects, Professor Dalcher has built a reputation as leader and innovator in the areas of practice-based education and reflection in project management. He works with many major industrial and commercial organisations and government bodies.

Darren is an Honorary Fellow of the APM, a Chartered Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, and the Royal Society of Arts, A Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the British Academy of Management. He is a Chartered IT Practitioner. He sits on numerous senior research and professional boards, including The PMI Academic Member Advisory Group, the APM Research Advisory Group, the CMI Academic Council and the APM Group Ethics and Standards Governance Board.  He is the Academic Advisor and Consulting Editor for the next APM Body of Knowledge. Prof Dalcher is an academic advisor for the PM World Journal.  He can be contacted at [email protected].

To view other works by Prof Darren Dalcher, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/darren-dalcher/.